The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys ★★★★

So what are we going to blame the failure of this at the box office on?

The failure of Bastille Day was clearly down to the stupid Captain America film, so presumably the failure of The Nice Guys to put enough arses on seats is down to the latest stupid X-Men film? Superhero films are destroying cinema. Or cinema I like, more importantly.

The Nice Guys won't get a sequel now, in all probability, and that's a shame because without any cynically open endings that they would hope would lead on to a franchise, it builds enough with its characters during its running time for you to know that you could easily get a lot more from Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe and friends. We just seem to be missing out on so much potential in the action film franchise stakes in the last few years. Aside from the Fast / Furious and Mission: Impossible films, we've got practically fuck all. Where's our fucking Edge Of Tomorrow sequel? GIVE ME MORE FILMS I WANT, CUNTS.

Anyway. Having rewatched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang I was even more hopeful for this one being good than I was in the first place. I was hopeful anyway because although I thought I hated the aforementioned film until that rewatch, The Nice Guys is a buddy 'cop' film and I always go into those expecting the very best of times that filmwatching can give you.

I was nervous about Gosling though, seeing as though the films I'd seen him in required an acting range that stretched no further than:-

1) Staring

2) Yelling

But where's this Gosling been hiding? An adeptness at physical comedy, genuine timing in the genre and the actual sense that he possesses the ability to have fun in a role are all apparent here. If he does more stuff like this then I will grow to like him very quickly. He really is the best thing in The Nice Guys. It's not a stacked cast anyway - he and Crowe, alongside Kim Basinger, are pretty much the only real star names names here, but it's filled with precocious brilliance that he could still have been overwhelmed by.

He isn't though. Not even by Crowe who, in all fairness, could probably do the downtrodden, sarcastic, craggy gumshoe in his sleep - although that's not to say he isn't great fun as well because he is. Gosling's comic scream and splendidly dopey one-liners and demeanour are all delivered so convincingly that it would be a genuine waste if he went back to staring duties any time soon.

Precocious talent, though, is to the fore here as well. Angourie Rice as a 13 year old daughter Gosling looks way too young to be the father of is wonderfully street smart and clearly hugely talented, and whoever the guy is who plays John Boy (Matt Bomer, apparently) almost bloody steals it as well. Oh and KEITH FUCKING DAVID is in this and it's always a pleasure to see him, even more so these days as I'd presumed he'd been pensioned off.

The cast really is extremely well constructed but so is the film for the most part. I guess it could be said that it really pushes the boat out quite a way for a film of this kind in terms of plot, but that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who had seen Shane Black's previous sojourn into this sub-genre. He does like a plot to work with and this one isn't afraid to weave in and out of plain view in the film as Crowe and Gosling, largely accidentally, slowly piece together what's going on.

What I found most pleasing is that Black seems to have reigned in his dialogue quite a way. I am very much in the minority on this, but as I noted on my Kiss Kiss Bang Bang review, I felt some of the dialogue was pretty terrible, mainly because Black looked as though he was lacking a filter for his very most smart-arsed dialogue. Here he seems to have learned his lesson. There are a lot less grandstanding mini-monologues and plays on phrases and words with a lot more straightforward one-liners and verbal pratfalls instead. It works so much better for it too.

It doesn't lose Black's ability to combine vicious violence with comedy as well, something that so few writers and directors have ever been able to do with the regularity that he successfully manages to. It's genuinely bracing at times but not at odds with the comedy because he's so adept at showing how grotty a business Gosling and Crowe are involved in, and also what a pair of money grabbing and occasionally murderous bastards they are.

It's also very funny. There are too many bits and lines to reference for me to make my point here, certainly now that every other person on Letterboxd has probably already done it before me. However, the scene in the lift is going to be a 'rewatch during your dinner on YouTube' classic and Gosling gets possibly the greatest dream scene in the history of cinema.

It's a shame that we probably won't get to spend more time with The Nice Guys. I'm fed up of coming out of films feeling that way. It would help if we don't have to wait 11 sodding years for Black to direct something else like this.

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🇵🇱 Steve G liked these reviews